In the midst of his 36th season on ESPN, Hall of Famer Dick Vitale remains as passionate and exuberant as ever. Look no further than “Disco Dick” from this past week in Wichita (Note: Vitale’s next game assignment is the Dec. 30 Michigan State versus Maryland game with commentator Dan Shulman at 5 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Meanwhile, off the court, he’s completely consumed with another passion.
Describing himself as “obsessed with the cause in my final chapter of life,” the 75-year-old grandfather of five has a very specific and meaningful focus.
“I’m devoted to helping kids in need and their families,” Vitale said. “It makes me so upset to see them struggle. No child should ever have to go through what many of these kids endure.”
Two current examples of Vitale’s year-round dedication are the release of his latest book — “It’s Awesome Baby! 75 Years of Memories and a Lifetime of Opinions on the Game I Love” — and hosting (with wife Lorraine) yesterday’s Christmas Party for kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota, Fla.
The book, written with Dick Weiss and Joan Williamson, is available through all major book retailers, or for a special autographed copy via dickvitaleonline.com.
“Every single dime of proceeds from the book will go to The V Foundation for pediatric cancer research,” he said. “That’s dedicated to the amazing 10 youngsters I single out in the back of the book.”
In terms of content, Vitale notes, “The book is special to me because I get a chance to review many things from my childhood. I write about growing up, chasing my dreams, the ups and downs, losing my eye and getting fired from my dream coaching job before the magical four letters ESPN changed my life.”
Vitale’s involvement in the Boys and Girls Club Christmas party, given for 250 kids from the Sarasota community, was the latest extension of Vitale’s long-time relationship with the group as well as an off-shoot of an annual Vitale tradition.
“Every year, we host around 20 kids at our house for a holiday party. These are terrific kids, who haven’t been dealt the easiest hand in life. We give them gifts and we celebrate. This year, the Boys and Girls Club asked if we would be interested in hosting a party there for 250 kids and we were proud to accept.”